This weekend we learned of the passing of a true global hero. Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, passed away at the age of 82. While he leaves a tremendous legacy of exploration and accomplishment, his family has asked those mourning Armstrong to do two things in remembering him: follow his example in being modest and doing amazing things, and when the night is clear and you see the moon, think of Neil and give it a wink.
Sounds like an excellent tribute that would make every community a better place. Remember to make every day “Wink at the Moon Day” for Neil Armstrong. To inspire you to your own greatness, watch the highlights of the Apollo 11 mission above.
Astronaut Charles Conrad on the Gemini 5 mission. Photo credit: NASA
Today in 1965, astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad left our earthly terrain to push the boundaries of manned space flight. Their goal was to spend eight days in space so NASA would better understand the effects of spending more time in space. It was also a nose-tweak to the Russians, who set the former record for man in space just two years earlier. Cooper and Conrad easily beat the Russians’ duration record of four days with a then-whopping eight days in space, although the mission didn’t always go smoothly: there problems with water supply, thrusters and general conditions. While the men had experiments to keep them busy, at least one lamented the lack of reading material. You know, because looking down on the gorgeous site of the earth gets old when there’s nothing else to do for eight days.
Still, the mission was deemed a success, and took man one step closer to the reality of living in space. This mission is also noteworthy since it is the first one to have its own patch, thanks to Cooper. After Gemini 5, every NASA manned mission in space would have an insignia patch, a tradition that continues to this day.
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The first semi-self portrait of Curiosity. If there were bathroom mirrors on Mars, we'd be seeing a lot more of the rover on Twitter.
Most of our geeky historic holidays are from decades or even centuries ago, so it’s a thrill when history is being made this very moment. The Mars Curiosity rover landed during the wee hours of the night, and the entire geek world erupted in applause, cheers and humorous tweets.
After the deconstructing of the space shuttle program, it’s nice to have something new in terms of exploration. NASA has pulled out all the stops by releasing the photos Curiosity takes as they come in, and even setting up a Twitter account for the roving SUV-sized paparazzi machine. If there is any life on Mars, they should buy giant sunglasses now.
Of course, there’s a lot more to Curiosity than cameras; the rover has its own geological toolkit, including items to drill, scoop, and sort samples. There’s also a laser onboard, but that’s to check what a distant rock is made of. Really. *coughlightsabercough* Curiosity also won major cool points for hitting the planet in true James Bond/Mission Impossible style, dangling from cables on a rocket backpack. Take that, rest of the science world! Boo-yah!
As Curiosity continues to explore and wow the world, you can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter. Celebrate today by keeping the latest info open under the PowerPoint presentation you’re supposed to be working on today.
Photo courtesy of NASA
Today in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 landed on the moon aboard the Eagle lunar module, making history as the first men to set foot on non-earthly soil.
They carried with them eons of man’s curiosity about the so-close-yet-so-far-away rock reflecting light in the night sky. That curiosity received a 21-hour indulgence as the two astronauts walked on the moon and collected lunar samples before finally catching a ride with fellow astronaut Michael Collins aboard the Columbia command module.
While Armstrong and Aldrin made history in the dust of the lunar surface, Collins would never have the chance to walk on the moon. After he played carpool mom for the other astronauts and kept the motor running on the command module, he never went into space again. His two space flights (one previously on the Gemini X mission) would earn him some notable bling, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an honor also bestowed upon his crewmates.
To celebrate, re-live those first heady moments during the landing with the video above.
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Give your Roomba the day off; it probably has tickets to see Shimon the jazz robot with your espresso machine, unless R2D2 and C-3PO have invited it over to the big birthday bash for George Lucas, who turns 68 today. After the party, they’ll pour a quart of biodegradable oil on the ground for their lost homie, Skylab, who was first launched today in 1973.